I. This morning, driving Daughter to school:

Daughter: Dad, you drink Coke.
Me: Yes, I do sometimes.
Daughter: Coke isn’t good for you. We talked about that in class.
Me: (Nods.)
Daughter: Beer isn’t good for you, either. We talked about it on Sunday.
Me: That’s right.
Daughter: You drink beer too.
Me: (Pause) What!?
Daughter: (Repeats, very seriously) You drink beer, Dad.
Me: I don’t drink beer, Daughter.
Daughter: Yes you do. I’ve seen you drink beer.
Me: (Curious about where this is going) Well, I drink root beer sometimes.
Daughter: (nods, vindicated) Yep. That’s the kind of beer you drink. Beer isn’t good for you.

At which point I begin to wonder how much of this she may have announced to the Primary, and whether the qualifier “root” was used at any time . . .

II. Last night late, helping wife with sewing project.

“Can you run to Wal-Mart quickly and pick up some things for this?”
“Okay, I need four packages of black, quarter-inch, double-fold bias tape . . .”

Which is how I ended up standing in line with a big biker dude who had a Harley shirt and long scraggly hair and tattoos, and was buying liquor. I was right behind him, with my shopping basket full of bright pink and yellow bias tape (they were out of black, and I had called back to find out what to get instead). It was a slow-moving midnight line that lasted at least ten minutes, and I was certain that at some point, biker dude would notice the guy behind him with the basket of pink ribbons — at which point, he would probably kick my butt, just on principle.

Biker dude never looked back. I survived.

59 comments for “Moments

  1. Ryan S.
    May 9, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    You should be avoiding the very appearance of evil. You should be shunning everything that even comes close to sinning, including drinking root beer. You should be a better example to your daughter.

    You should also know that I am being facetious.

  2. May 9, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    So, which root beer do you drink, Kaimi? Just any old swill, or are you particular? Let’s have a root beer discussion. Anything to put off grading these papers…

  3. Ardis Parshall
    May 9, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I want to know more about the quarter-inch double-fold bias tape. Did they have any rick-rack at the same counter, or has that completely vanished?

    (Really, if anybody has any rick-rack, any width, any color, left over in some half-forgotten scrap bag, let’s talk.)

    I drink two sodas every year. Period. Both of them root beer. Root beer is the only soda good enough to be worth tolerating the burn of carbonation.

  4. May 9, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    That\’s why I always buy sarsparilla. Keeps \’em guessing.

  5. Keith
    May 9, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    I’ll try just about any root beer I find. Mug and Barqs are good. Hires and Shasta are fair. There are a few of the more expensive bottled brands (I’ve forgotten names at the moment) that are good. Those who live in Utah county can get a pretty good root beer from Brick Oven. Having said all that, my favorite has to be A&W from the tap (the canned stuff is less superior).

  6. Adam Greenwood
    May 9, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    -I’m thankful for your miraculous escape, Kaimi W., though if you hadn’t made it I would have poured out a rootbeer libation on your grave.

    -We were at an expensive restaurant recently and I ordered a far too expensive rootbeer float, because when you’re in the mood for one only one will do. It came back so lukewarm that no rootbeer crystals had formed! What an outrage.

    -In Spain we talked about rootbeer all the time. One time a friend drove out to a military base or something and got all the ingredients for a genuine cookout, including rootbeer. The friend and another Spaniard took one sip and spit it out. “Medicine,” they said. On the other hand, Spaniards have eucalyptus-flavored candy. Go figure.

  7. Starfoxy
    May 9, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    As recent converts my parents were invited to dinner with a family in the ward where they were served some home-made root beer. My parents took one sip and said more out of shock than anything, “this is beer!” The family insisted up and down that it was root beer, and was not alcoholic “because we didn’t put any alcohol in it.” Though they *did,* however, put yeast in it.

  8. May 9, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Didn’t root beer–and for that matter sarsparilla, Coca-Cola, cream soda, and pretty much everything non-alcoholic that we drink that doesn’t come from a spring or a dairy animal–start out as a medicine? My memory is that the entirely gamut of carbonated beverages originated with quack doctors wandering the countryside, selling elixers and whatnot. I should read a good history of soft drinks sometime.

  9. May 9, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    My old bishop would make (non-carb) root beer at home by the three gallon pot and bring it to the youth dances, without his wife’s help. Always. I thought it was a nice gesture. I also knew that he personally was against pretty much all caffeine including chocolate.

  10. soren
    May 9, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    After my roommate got me into boutique bottled root beers I can’t go back to the mass-produced stuff. Once you’ve tasted Henry Weinhard’s, Sprecher’s, or Milligan’s Island, everything else tastes like swill.

  11. bbell
    May 9, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    On my mission in South Africa us elders made homemade rootbeer from dry ice, sugar, and concentrate sent from home. The elders all stood around the lovely beverage cart drinking it all night. We thought we had done a huge favor for these poor root beer deprived South Africans. But no….

    The members hated it. They would take a sip and pour it out. We tried calling them to repentance but they said that a strong soda called “Iron Brew” was much better.

    We tried fajitas later and that went over much better…

  12. May 9, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Soren, you mighte be interested in this extended taste test a friend of mine in Dallas engaged in; it took him weeks, but the results were worth it. (He gives Henry Weinhard’s a B+.)

  13. May 9, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    We’ve already had the root beer discussion here over at Kulturblog.

  14. May 9, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Although his undertaking is impressive, it’s hard to take your friend’s evaluations too seriously, given that he gave Virgils a C-, whereas A&W got a B-.

    (Although I’d love to try the full range of root beer he tried.)

  15. Mark IV
    May 9, 2007 at 3:29 pm


    Forget the Coke and beer drinking. The most shocking thing in your post was your admission that you shop at Wal-Mart.

    There are people who will put you up against a wall for that.

  16. Lupita
    May 9, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Weinhard’s a B+? What is he smoking? I’m going to check out Bulldog though. We’ll see if he’s reliable.
    I don’t know if this is heresy in a rootbeer crowd but Weinhard’s Vanilla Cream is hard to beat.

  17. Mike
    May 9, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Met a young guy in the military from Miami, new member and a Cuban years ago. We had root beer floats for refreshments and he thought it tasted like medicine. As a joke we told him drinking root beer was part of living the complete gospel, because it was the official refreshment for Family Home Evening. Hey, it makes as much sense as going from hot drinks to ice tea. He believed us for a while and thought it was pretty funny when he found out it was just a joke.

    What I really liked about the Barqs root beer in Biloxi Mississippi, when we lived there about 20 years ago was that it had loads of caffeine in it. We had some No Coke Mormons in the ward and we made it a point to have Barqs with vanilla ice cream at ward activities. It didn’t seem to have any bad effects on the level of their spirituality, as far as we could tell.

    We believed Barqs originated in Biloxi and the secret to its unique taste was the local filthy nasty swamp water. Pretty embarassing to fill the font and have the water so dirty and yellow-brown that you thought it came from some farm animal. You didn’t want to even get baptised in it let alone drink it. Barqs was swill. But it was our swill so we loved it.

  18. Kaimi Wenger
    May 9, 2007 at 3:46 pm


    Wal-Mart has a fabric section that’s open till 1 a.m. (And there’s a 24-hour Wal-Mart further downtown.) That makes it pretty much the only option for midnight sewing-assistant supply runs. Jo-Ann’s is great and all, but they close their doors at seven or so.

  19. May 9, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Weinhard’s all the way.

  20. Julie M. Smith
    May 9, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Not quite what Russell was looking for, but _For God, Country, and Coca Cola_ is one of the very bestest books I have ever read.

  21. Kaimi Wenger
    May 9, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    By the way, the True Gospel of Root Beer is as follows:

    The first degree of glory is the glory of the sun, which is Virgil’s. And to achieve the highest level of glory, the Virgil’s should be consumed with tasty cheese.

    The second degree of glory is the glory of the moon, which is Weinhard’s.

    The third degree of glory is the glory of the stars, which is IBC, and Kemper, and Stewarts, and Barq’s, and A&W. Even as one star differs from another in glory, so do these differ.

    Finally, there are those who must be cast into outer darkness, which are the ginger beers.

  22. Peter LLC
    May 9, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    “Root beer is the only soda good enough to be worth tolerating the burn of carbonation.”

    That’s why chilled, flat root beer is the true nectar of the gods.

  23. David
    May 9, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Ironic, isn’t it, that given our national epidemic of obesity, Diet Coke is considered unacceptable but root beer is just fine. And only a cynic would question shopping at Walmart. Oh and judging a biker guy buying liquor as violent is just normal.

  24. May 9, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Adam Greenwood wrote: -We were at an expensive restaurant recently and I ordered a far too expensive rootbeer float, because when you’re in the mood for one only one will do. It came back so lukewarm that no rootbeer crystals had formed! What an outrage.

    Ooo. I always thought that the rootbeer ice crystals forming on the edges of the frozen-but-softening ice cream was the best part of rootbeer floats.

    (And, fwiw, I think rootbeer floats are the only true way of consuming rootbeer.)

  25. Julie M. Smith
    May 9, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    What kind of expensive restaurant serves rootbeer floats?

  26. manaen
    May 9, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Julie, A&W Restaurant serves root-beer floats (you have to know about Adam’s budgeting).

  27. Scott
    May 9, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Sam B: Virgil’s tastes like liquid anise/licorice. If that’s what you like in a root beer, more power to you. But since most other root beers are nowhere near that lopsided in the flavor profile, I think it must be said that your preference is for a pretty idiosyncratic drink. (My theory is that Virgil’s success derives from its marketing. Pour some in a paper cup and offer it to some people with experienced palates and see if they like it. Bring another cup for them to spit into.)

    Lupita: It’s not clear to me whether you think Weinhard’s deserves more or less than a B+. For what it’s worth, Weinhard ranked fifth out of more than forty root beers. That’s no poor showing. It was also the highest-ranking root beer that is sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup, rather than the cane sugar that appears in most premium root beers. (If anything, I think I rated Weinhard’s too highly. Like Gale Gand’s root beer, it’s way too sweet to enjoy outside of a dessert context. It’s definitely not refreshing.)

    David: Not all root beer drinkers are fat. All Diet Coke drinkers (caffeine-free or not) have poor taste (or, at least, a dead spot in their palate).


  28. May 9, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Excuse me? Ginger Beers? Outer Darkness?

    My friend, you have never tasted a true Jamaican ginger beer, a drink that just keeps on giving. With a good jerk chicken, a cheap tex-mex jalepeno burn has nothing on it.

    Canada Dry has a medicore, but drinkable one out now called Golden Cockerel, it’s a ginger ale with a bit more kick. But I’m still a fan of the little Jamaican groceries and their imported varieties.

    Wineheards was the (un)official root beer of my mission, we have several joke pictures of missionaries ‘passed out’ under 15 or so bottles of it…lol

  29. David
    May 9, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Who says Mormons don’t know how to enjoy the finer things in life? Who knew the vast array of choices available for something like root beer.

  30. Adam Greenwood
    May 9, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    What kind of expensive restaurant serves rootbeer floats?

    That was my thought, too, but once I noticed it on the menu I had to order it of course. Worst rootbeer float I ever had.

  31. Jon in Austin
    May 9, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    All root beers have been irrelevant ever since it became possible to purchase Guarana in the US.

  32. May 9, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    I think Weinhard’s and Thomas Kemper are the best mass-market (more or less) root beers.

    I recently tried Virgil’s and agree with Scott’s assessment of it (#37). I liked it, but it’s not fantastic.

    Without a doubt, the absolutely best root beer is 1919 which is only available on tap in parts of the upper Midwest and possibly in Pennsylvania.

    My favorite ginger beer is Stewart’s. It’s got serious bite to it that hides under a mellow-vanilla-treacley flavor. I’m not fond of the ginger ales that have more of a pine-appley/fruity taste.

  33. May 9, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    Virgils is nasty. This is a good example of Isaiah’s warning about people calling Evil things Good.

  34. Hans Hansen
    May 9, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    I experienced Norwegian root beer on my mission; they call it “Voerteroel”, or, if I can get the Norwegian characters to work, “Vørterøl”. It’s a malt beverage that’s the official drink of the Norwegian Olympic Team. It tastes nothing at all like American root beer. I preferred the taste of Frydenlund but Ringnes and Hansa make pretty good ones too.

  35. Lupita
    May 9, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Scott, I did mean to imply that Weinhards was closer to an A- than a B+. Maybe if it did an extra assignment or two, you could bump it up. I am awed at your capacity to imbibe. I would have given up after ten. Maybe twenty.
    And hey, what’s so wrong about using corn syrup? Isn’t corn syrup in everything??

  36. meems
    May 9, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    As a treat, I brought in my Japanese students some imported American root beer once. Exact same reaction as everyone else… medicine! Yuk!! Now, I can really taste that medicinal flavor myself, although I had never been aware of it before.

    Wondering what your daughter says in primary is always a good worry. I remember when the little son of a bishopric member told me his dad drank coffee every morning – but it was okay ’cause it was decaf! :-)

  37. May 10, 2007 at 12:01 am

    Kaimi, offer your kid some coffee cake.

  38. meems
    May 10, 2007 at 12:30 am

    Aaack. I was going to say something about coffee cake! Where I live, people often have “tea,” meaning the light snacky meal in the afternoon. It totally has little or nothing to do with actually drinking tea. This is a tricky one too!

  39. Eve
    May 10, 2007 at 12:57 am

    Kaimi, great story about your daughter. I’ve known families who called their coffee tables “Postum tables” but I’ve never heard anyone go so far as to find an alternative name for root beer.

    It’s so complicated growing up as a Mormon kid and figuring out which rules apply to which spheres of life (home, school, church….). When I was in Primary I was convinced that motorcycles were against church policy because my mother had said something negative about them in a tone of voice with which I associated Word of Wisdom prohibitions. I was quite horrified when a Mormon friend’s father expressed a desire to own one.

  40. DSG
    May 10, 2007 at 1:51 am

    Root Beer and all carbonated beverages really upset my stomach so I have sworn off all bubbly stuff. So I have become a lemonade connoisseur. There are some really great places around where I live that have fresh squeezed, raspberry lemonade, peach lemonade. I used to be an avid Pepsi drinker… a few months ago I tried it to see if I was missing anything?? Nope!

  41. Adam Greenwood
    May 10, 2007 at 7:18 am

    Aaack. I was going to say something about coffee cake!

    I had been turning down coffee cake all my life until a year or two into my marriage, when my wife explained to me in a pained voice that coffee cake didn’t actually have coffee in it.

  42. May 10, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Kaimi, have you told your daughter about Morcafe?

    I am currently searching to see if I can find this stuff here in NYC. I’ve been told by one source that I’m more likely to find corn coffee in Columbian food stores.

  43. Melinda
    May 10, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    I had a friend as a kid who was not allowed to drink root beer. She explained to me that root beer was the same color as Coke, and drinking Coke was a sin and her family avoided the very appearance of evil. She really used that phrase “avoiding the very appearance of evil.” It was years later I found out that some root beers have caffeine in them. Good thing their sole carbonated beverage was the only true and living Sprite.

  44. jjohnsen
    May 10, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I had been turning down coffee cake all my life until a year or two into my marriage, when my wife explained to me in a pained voice that coffee cake didn’t actually have coffee in it.
    My parents used to make this great breakfast treat. Kind of a cornbread/cake with a sweet cinnamon mixture over it, they called it breakfast cake. It was my favorite breakfast ever. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I visited a friend that served coffee cake and figure out what it was. I guess my mom didn’t want me announcing to the Primary anything associated with coffee.

  45. Adam Greenwood
    May 10, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Sprite looks like champagne and tastes like nutwater. Bleah.

  46. Adam Greenwood
    May 10, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Nutshell water, I mean. Sprite tastes like carbonated nutshells.

  47. May 10, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Sprite tastes like carbonated nutshells.

    That’s why I only drink 7up–the Uncola, made from Uncola Nuts! (Geoffrey Holder taught me this while I was young, and that man was my hero. For a brief, intense period of my childhood, there’s nothing I wanted more than to wear white suits, live in the Carribean, fan myself with my hat, recline in a wicker chair, drink soda from a bottle, and laugh joyously while waterfalls splashed in the background. Hahahahahahahaha!)

  48. Keith
    May 10, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Re: Sprite and 7-up. Any of you remember Bubble Up? The Coca Cola company dropped it when it introduced Sprite. It is probably still available in selected areas (East and South) of the USA. I think it has more character than Sprite.

  49. Tona
    May 10, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Ardis, I inherited gorgeous vintage rick-rack from my Grandma, I’ve got loads. Barq’s has caffeine, did someone mention that already? Sorry if I missed it.

  50. Kaimi Wenger
    May 10, 2007 at 3:59 pm


    The bias tape was to make finished seams for a project that she had to turn in. (Normally, seams are unfinished, because, who really cares? And as she doesn’t have a serger, she finished them with bias tape.)

    Rick rack would have made for some interesting seams. The dress would certainly have had more character. But I suspect that finishing seams with rick-rack would have been a little too over-the-top.

    And yes, Wal-Mart had quite a bit of rick-rack. I thought about picking some up, just as a joke — “I couldn’t find black bias tape, will this do instead?” — but then decided that that would probably result in having a pair of Fiskars thrown at me, so I avoided that option.

  51. Kaimi Wenger
    May 10, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    And I also picked up a couple of yards of black broadcloth and cut a few strips of black bias tape for her, but she decided to go with the pink instead.

    I can’t actually sew, but I’m not a bad general-purposes assistant. Cutting out 2-inch strips of broadcloth at a 45 degree angle, with the pizza cutter, is within my range of skill.

  52. jose
    May 10, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Kaimi, that was you in Walmart. If I knew you were standing behind me I would have said “Hi”.

  53. May 10, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    my husband is in the military and this past summer we were still living in germany. we were planning on going to visit one of the places i served my mission in France. before i left, i got the elders phone numbers there and asked them what i could bring them. at the top of their list was root beer. and i have to admit, going 1 1/2 years without it is a pretty crazy thing. luckily in france there are plenty of soda’s that are way yummy. those elders will never forget the lady that brought them a 12 pack of barq’s, dr. pepper, pnut butter, and so many other things. and the french people that had tasted it said the same thing as the spainiards. medicine. but their candy tastes like medicine to me too. i did the same thing for my brother who was serving in france. he got two deliveries of rootbeer, not to mention the packages with sunflower seeds and butterfingers.

  54. Scott
    May 10, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    On the fine dining issue, FWIW, a number of high profile restaurants serve root beer or use it in desserts or even savory courses. The French Laundry and Per Se offer a non-alcoholic beverage pairing for multi-course meals and have served Boylan root beer with foie gras in the past.


  55. meems
    May 10, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Ohh. The French Laundry in Napa? That’s on my list of must-go-to restaurants. Someday. Somehow.

  56. queuno
    May 11, 2007 at 2:10 am

    I often put a case of IBC under my desk and I put it in the office fridge when I get to work. Coming back from lunch, into a staff meeting, I’ll take along a chilled IBC bottle with me into the meeting. The first time, my boss looked quizzically at me, then stared again as the “Mormon. Dark glass bottle. Whaaaat?” thought entered his mind.

    Good times. Good root beer. And the better restaurants in Dallas will serve you a frosted mug from the bar (that otherwise would have been wasted on a margarita) with your IBC.

  57. May 11, 2007 at 2:21 am

    A&W on tap in frosted mug; IBC (both diet, thank you, David)

    It was a slow-moving midnight line that lasted at least ten minutes

    Kaimi, I’m curious as to what other speeds you have experienced at Wal-Mart? I was there today, with two wiggly, tired, hungry, little boys. From the time I lined up until I pushed away from the checkout, it was a total of 27 minutes.

    I’ve just been hoping for somewhere to vent about it. Thanks.

  58. Space Chick
    May 11, 2007 at 12:05 pm


    you must try the homebrewed ginger ale at the Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage before you condemn ginger anything. Have a Thai chicken pizza while you’re there. The Tooth’s rootbeer is pretty good too. Can’t speak for their ales…

  59. Ronin
    May 13, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    I tried out root beer only after I had joined the Church. I have never aquired the taste, so, is it un-Mormon if one dislikes root beer?

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